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September 27, 2016
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The scoring prowess from the Wellington Dukes’ top line of Brayden Stortz, Brent House and Nic Mucci has been evident all season so far, and once again, they rose to the occasion when it mattered most, combining for 10 points in a 5-3 victory at the Governor’s Showcase in Buffalo, N.Y. over the Orangeville Flyers. 


The Dukes’ first of two games at the Showcase was a primetime game at Rink 2 inside the Harbor Center and both teams came out with speed in the early going. It was a rookie goaltender’s duel that stole the show in the first frame between Wellington ‘tender Connor Ryckman and highly touted Oshawa Generals draft pick Nathan Torchia (the son of former NHL goalie Mike Torchia). Shots favoured the Dukes by a hair at the end of 20 minutes, 9-8. Wellington would lose newly acquired forward Mitchell Mendonca, formerly of the Belleville Bulls/Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) and the Thorold Blackhawks (GOJHL), to a major spearing penalty, which would lead to a game misconduct near the end of the period.


 Flyers rookie forward Conor Smart broke the ice just 83 seconds into the second period with a tally on the powerplay at the tail end of the Mendonca penalty. Zach Taylor picked up the lone assist on Smart’s first OJHL goal. The House-Mucci-Stortz line went to work later on, finding a crack in Torchia’s armour with House picking up his seventh goal of the season. On the goal, former Oakville Blades defenceman Michael Mannara picked up a roughing penalty. Despite the penalty, the tie game lasted all of six seconds. Veteran forward Colin Rigney restored the Flyers’ lead on a quick dart into the Dukes zone shorthanded and beat Nelson for his team-leading seventh of the campaign. Liam Winslow drew the lone assist. The period finished with Wellington winning the shot count 11-4, but the Flyers still held the lead.


The Dukes broke things open in a stormy third period, scoring four goals on 19 shots. Stortz struck first, tying things up just 19 seconds into the stanza with his eighth marker of the season from Nathan MacDuff and House. Captain Justin Bean gave Wellington the lead for the first time on the man-advantage with his second goal in as many games from Mucci and Stortz. The pesky Flyers stuck with the Dukes though and capitalized on an Austin Labelle holding penalty. Zack Lyons’ second goal of the season from Mannara tied things up once again. A somewhat underrated source from Wellington’s backend was able to answer the bell almost halfway through the period. Former Welland Canadian Captain Nathan MacDuff scored his first goal as a Duke with some help from House and Stortz. The goal turned out to be the game-winner. The Dukes seventh win in a row was sealed away with House’s second of the game and eighth of the year with just six seconds left from Colin Doyle and Evan Foley.


Another outstanding effort from the Dukes, especially late in the game, showcased why they are a force to be reckoned with in the OJHL this season. Goaltender Connor Ryckman impressed once again in picking up his seventh win, stopping 22 shots. Four points each from Stortz and House, as well as MacDuff's two points paced the offensive attack.


Wellington will face the Toronto Jr. Canadians Wednesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in their second and final game in Buffalo before heading back home to the County.

Story by Brock Ormond

Photo: Brent House, #14 of the Wellington Dukes: Scored four points (two goals, two assists) in Tuesday's 5-3 win at the Governor's Showcase in Buffalo, N.Y.

Photo by Ed McPherson, OJHL Images

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